The Great Walls of Business

By Tracy MacDonald
Sep 2018

The Walls of …

Productivity. Creativity. Inspiration. Implementation. Completion.

In business, we hit “walls” all the time. Although metaphorical, that doesn’t make them any less frustrating, intimidating, or challenging. Depending on your perspective though, those walls could become inspirational.


The walls are real and need to be dealt with to move from problem to solution. There is obviously no “right” way to deal with walls; a lot of that depends on the source of the wall and how much control one has over going through the wall, around the wall, or over the wall. Different types of walls require different types of strategies. The first thing to do is to recognize which walls are within our control, and which are not.

Take, for example, the walls of productivity, implementation, and completion; walls which likely are somewhat within our own control. These walls have to do with management: managing your time or prioritizing the order of operations to get something completed, or pushing others to keep up the pace of a project. For those of us who feel a sense of accomplishment as a result of moving a project, or part of a project, forward, managing our time as well as others’ is critical. The wall arises when the team members have other responsibilities that are urgent or time sensitive. Even when dealing with a group, as project leader, there will likely be more you will need to do to bust through that wall and keep the project moving.

Whether these particular walls are part of individual work or group work two strategies can be very helpful in dissolving the wall: prioritization and deadlines. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with multiple projects, multiple deliverables, and varying levels of “what’s accomplished so far” all of which can create a wall. Address this wall by trying a few different tactics. Compartmentalize the project by breaking it down into smaller pieces. Complete each piece as time and resources allow, even if those pieces won’t be put together until the end. Give yourself deadlines that are realistic. You know best what is required for your job on a daily basis, which puts you in control of your deadlines. Prioritization over what is required immediately and what can be done after that will help you set realistic deadlines and keep you on track to accomplish the goals set for a project. This works especially well in a group setting; no one likes to be known as the one person holding up a project.


The walls of the things we cannot control can be more frustrating and more likely to cause feelings of low morale and negativity for yourself or in the workplace. The even greater challenge here is that negativity can spread like wildfire, dissolving all good intentions and accomplishments previously in place. Where possible, the best course of action is to not let these walls of things not in our control to grow beyond the height of the curb of a sidewalk. Some of these elements that are beyond our control are creativity, change, and inspiration.


When creativity and inspiration strike, it’s that moment when the mind feels almost frenetic. There are so many ideas, thoughts, solutions, and opportunities that it’s difficult to keep up. But when there is no creativity and no inspiration, it can feel like a dead end, or a deep slump. Sadly, there is no simple solution, and what works for one person may not work for another. In the case of these walls which are beyond our control, taking a trip around them may be the best option. One cannot “attack” creativity; one needs to step away and let the mind relax. Inspiration may require looking at a problem or situation from a completely different perspective, or having an unrelated conversation that ties into an option not previously thought of. The main point here is don’t force a thought process that isn’t ready yet, and give yourself some time. As much as there may seem to be a dry period for creative or inspiring thoughts or solutions, there will also be a time of abundance. Write things down during that time because these ideas could be useful during the next dry spell.


Walls are real, whether they can be seen or not. We cannot ignore them, not can we expect them to dissolve on their own. It’s important to see the wall, respect the wall, and then decide how to go about dismantling it. Even if your first encounter with dismantling a wall isn’t an immediate success or the success you were looking for, have patience. Another will pop up, and you will have the opportunity to try again; this time with a better, faster outcome.

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